Moose Jaw hero at Dunkirk

Moose Jaw Times Herald - - OPINION - RICHARD DOWSON

and Fleet Ten­der. Sadly, less than two months af­ter Dunkirk, on July 19, 1940, HMS Watch­ful was at­tacked and strafed in the English Channel by two Ger­man Messer­schmitt 110s. AB Wood­ward, 2938, R.C.N, was killed in ac­tion. Crew­mate, Royal Navy Able Sea­man John Fran­cis, (D/JX137299) died of his wounds later that day.

AB Wood­ward was the first Royal Cana­dian Navy mem­ber killed in ac­tion in the Sec­ond World War. He was also the first Moose Jaw man to die in the war.

The HMS Watch­ful was se­verely dam­aged in the at­tack that killed the sailor. She was run up onto a beach, re­paired and saved.

It is al­most cer­tain that dur­ing the film­ing of the movie “Dunkirk” Rod­ney’s old ship, un­der the name Coro­nia, Scar­bor­ough, was part of the flotilla scene.

The fol­low­ing are some ex­cerpts from the Moose Jaw Times Her­ald of Satur­day, July 20, 1940

Rod­ney was born in Moose Jaw May 2, 1920. He re­ceived his pub­lic school education at the Ross and King George schools and later at­tended Cen­tral Col­le­giate In­sti­tute. His chief sports were hockey and rugby, but his main am­bi­tion was to get into the Royal Cana­dian Air Force, or, fail­ing that, to join the Royal Cana­dian Navy.

Ac­cord­ing to his mother Rod­ney al­ways re­tained a great in­ter­est in Moose Jaw de­spite his hard work and busy days as a sailor in His Majesty’s Cana­dian Navy. Last let­ter she re­ceived from him had asked for an­other num­ber of copies of the Times-Her­ald as he liked to see what was do­ing “back home.” Mrs. Wood­ward had mailed a batch of pa­pers to her son Fri­day af­ter­noon, lit­tle know­ing the tragic news that was al­ready on its way to her home.

The tele­gram read, ‘The Min­is­ter of Na­tional De­fence deeply egrets to in­form you that your son Rod­ney T. Wood­ward, able sea­man, O.N.2938, was killed in ac­tion in the North Sea. Fu­neral will take place July 22, 1940, at Yarmouth, Eng­land.’

Mrs. Wood­ward’s mother, who is 84 years of age, re­sides at Yarmouth and the fam­ily here wired her Satur­day no­tice of their son’s fu­neral. How­ever, Mrs. Wood­ward be­lieves that the great age of her mother will pre­vent her at­tend­ing the rites.

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